Bobby Jindal (R-LA) was elected governor of Louisiana in 2007 and is running for reelection in 2011.
• Prevented the public release of government records and has fought legislation to make
government more transparent
• Weakened the authority of the state ethics board
• Refused to accept federal stimulus funds to expand unemployment insurance and to fund
other important programs
• Rewarded campaign donors with government jobs and contracts
• Has been fined for ethics violations
CHARGE ONE: TRANSPARENCY
During the 2009 legislative session, Gov. Jindal killed a bill that would have greatly expanded
transparency in the governor’s office. House Bill 169 would have extended the Public Records
Act to the governor’s office and made most books, records, writings, accounts, letters and other
executive branch communications available to the public on request. Gov. Jindal said the bill
would violate executive privilege and helped to kill it in committee.
Instead, Gov. Jindal backed Senate Bill 278, a rival measure riddled with loopholes, but which
became law on July 10, 2009. Gov. Jindal asserted the new law would increase government
transparency, but opponents charged that it would forever seal some records regarding who and what influenced a governor’s decisions.
Gov. Jindal has voiced his opposition to legislation aimed at expanding access to records of the
governor’s office. During the 2010 legislative session, two state legislators introduced bills to
strengthen the open records policy by making clear that gubernatorial records are public and
creating narrow exceptions to shield specific documents from the public domain. One bill
directs the governor’s office to preserve records exempt from public disclosure and transfer them to the state archives at the end of the governor’s tenure; the documents would become public.
CHARGE TWO: UNDERCUTTING ETHICS ENFORCEMENT
After a special legislative session passed Gov. Jindal-backed legislation gutting the Louisiana
Board of Ethics, ten of its 11 members resigned. Seven of the ten members resigned because
the legislation transferred ethics enforcement power from the state ethics board to administrative
law judges, rendering the board useless. Under the new law, administrative law judges,
selected by an appointee of the governor, determine the guilt or innocence of public officials.
Opponents of the legislation contend this will hinder ethics reform and promote political
gamesmanship because lawmakers may be able to choose the judges they will face. The new
law also requires a tougher standard for evidence to prove ethics violations. Gov. Jindal
proposed the legislation while he was under investigation by the Louisiana Board of Ethics.
Other proponents of the new law were accused of holding grudges against the ethics board.
CHARGE THREE: HYPOCRISY IN REJECTING STIMULUS MONEY
Gov. Jindal declined $98 million in federal stimulus funds intended to help the state expand
unemployment insurance. He also rejected $9.5 million in stimulus funds to temporarily
expand Medicaid to families who left welfare for a job and turned back $55.3 million to provide
health care for people without insurance. Gov. Jindal also refused to apply for $300 million in
stimulus money to potentially fund a high-speed rail line between New Orleans and Baton
Rouge, upsetting even some fellow Louisiana Republicans, including Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao.
In marked contrast, Gov. Jindal accepted and dispersed one billion in stimulus money to shore up
Louisiana’s budget. The governor also publicly presented a $521,000 check he signed
personally to the First Baptist Church in Anacoco, but failed to disclose its source: the muchmaligned federal stimulus law.
CHARGE FOUR: PATRONAGE FOR DONORS
Gov. Jindal appointed more than 200 campaign contributors—who donated in excess of
$784,000 to the governor’s election campaign in 2007 and 2008—to positions in Louisiana state
government. In addition, 12 of the 16 doctors appointed by Gov. Jindal to the Louisiana
Medical Advisory Board were found to be campaign donors as well.
Gov. Jindal has sought to keep such connections from becoming public. During the 2009
legislative session, the governor helped kill House Bill 243, a measure which would have
required him to disclose the names of campaign contributors appointed to government
positions. It was not the first time Gov. Jindal tried to keep the legislature from forcing him to
divulge his ties to donors; he vetoed similar legislation in 2008.
Gov. Jindal also has awarded millions of dollars in work and incentives to campaign donors.
In one egregious case, the state announced plans to invest $10 million in the Port of Terrebonne, to the benefit of Gary Chouest. Mr. Chouest, his business and his closest family members
were responsible for at least 18 separate donations to Gov. Jindal’s campaign war-chest, totaling
CHARGE FIVE: ETHICS VIOLATIONS
Gov. Jindal was fined $2,500 by the Louisiana Board of Ethics for violating campaign finance
laws by failing to disclose in a timely manner more than $118,000 in direct mail expenses the
Louisiana Republican Party made on his behalf.
H/T to Central La Politics